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propagate butterfly weed seeds

Water the butterfly weed seeds whenever the compost feels barely damp when pressed. Apply the water by the spoonful or use a spray bottle to keep from dislodging the seeds.

Butterfly weed and milkweed seed pods may be harvested and planted to support Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Butterfly weed grows well from seeds, which must be harvested in late summer and either sown immediately in the garden, or started in spring after a lengthy chilling process. The seeds are viable and will germinate with little care, although they must be planted at the appropriate depth to ensure successful sprouting.

Snip off the pod using pruning shears. Slice lengthwise along the edge using a utility knife. Pry open the seed pods. Scoop out the seeds and fluffy matter inside and place it in a bucket.

Prepare peat or other biodegradable pots before removing the butterfly weed seeds from the refrigerator. Fill 3-inch starter pots with a mixture of half seed-starting compost and half coarse sand. Moisten the mix and press it firm.

Transplant the butterfly weed into a permanent bed in spring just after the last frost. If planting butterfly weed in clay soil, dig in 2 to 4 inches of compost to lighten the soil, or consider building raised beds to increase drainage.

Place the butterfly weed seeds in a plastic bag filled with 1 cup of moistened perlite. Store the bag inside the refrigerator for three months. Mist the perlite with water every few days to keep it from drying out completely.

Before you begin to harvest the butterfly weed pods, sterilize your cutting tools. Dip the blades into a full-strength household cleanser, such as Lysol or Pine-Sol. Repeat between cuts to prevent the spread of diseases.

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For a contrast, plant butterfly weed with the blue, purple, or rose-colored blooms of perennials like aster, balloon flower, and Joe Pye weed. For complementary colors, pair it with varieties of coreopsis.

How to Grow Butterfly Weed

All milkweed plants are vital to the life cycle of monarch butterflies.

Dig a hole (or holes) slightly deeper and wider than the rootball of your plants. Butterfly weed looks great when planted in masses, but make sure you space plants 1-2’ apart.

Besides monarchs, planting butterfly weed will bring a host of other pollinators to your garden. You’re likely to see honeybees, native bees, other types of butterflies, butterfly moths, and hummingbirds.